In the editorial of the late September issue of Biblionews I indicated that I had news to pass on to members in the present Decem-ber issue of a development that should see the journal coming out on time from 2001 on. That news is as follows.
In the latter half of 2000 the University of Sydney decided that the rapidly deteriorating financial situation of the Faculty of Arts made it necessary to encourage members of staff of long standing, especially senior ones, to take voluntary early retirement (VER) by offering them a financial incentive that would, however, see savings to the salaries bill being made in the longer term. I was one who had decided to apply to take up the offer of VER and at the time the September issue appeared I was still waiting for my application to be accepted. I was convinced that once free of my onerous day-to-day duties at the university, I would be able to devote to Biblionews and other neglected areas of my non-university activities the time that they required.
I and, I think, most of the other colleagues who took VER worked a full load until our paid careers ceased on 30 March 2001. The University offered us, however, the opportunity to continue on by formal appointment, initially for three years, as Honorary Research Associate with titles that would otherwise have lapsed being retained as honorary ones for the duration. This means that we can continue with our research projects and give other assistance to our departments (not, however, in the form of regular teaching of courses) that will keep up their research output – which those left behind are less and less able to contribute to because of the increasing teaching load – and provide some forms of relief to the remaining colleagues.
I have been appointed an Honorary Research Associate and retained the title of Honorary Associate Professor and can thus still be reached through the University postal and email addresses listed on the inside front cover of Biblionews.
Unfortunately, however, my expectation of having much more time to spend on Biblionews etc. has not yet been realised. Apart from the fact I am still engaged on long-term unfinished research projects, supervise the research of postgraduate students and give regular coaching to undergraduate students who are having problems, a whole lot of other obligations have descended on me that I am still struggling to get on top of. For this reason this December issue of Biblionews is appearing shockingly late, as will in consequence the March 2001 issue. I will do all I can in the second half of 2001 to ensure that this sad state of affairs does not continue.
While obituaries in so many issues (Dr. Wettenhall’s in this one) indicate that we have regularly been losing older members, it is gratifying to report that we are gaining new members at the same time. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the following new members who joined us during 2000: .Mr Richard Blair (Newtown, NSW), Ms Yiah Chan (Surry Hills NSW), Mr Paul Knobel (Potts Point NSW), Mr Gary Murray (Bendigo VIC), Mrs Loris Peek (both Paddington NSW), Mr Ward Powers (Summer Hill NSW), Ms. K.M. Rodda (Woden ACT), Mr Michael Taffe (Wendouree VIC), Mr T. Thomas (Ferntree Gully VIC), Mr Max Walkley (University of Sydney).
Finally, I would like to thank Graham Stone for the first part of his article on Australian science fiction, based on his talk given at the September 2000 meeting in Sydney, Alan Rickard for his two reviews and Jon Prance and Neil Radford for the contributions to our Notes & Queries section.
PS A reader has drawn my attention to an error in the previous editorial: the author of ‘Hoodoo McFiggin’s Christmas’ was not Stephen Laycock but Stephen Leacock, a Canadian professor of political economy better known to the world as a great humorist. The H. McF. story is found in his book Literary Lapses, first published in 1910 and later in a 1939 Penguin. The condition of my copy of this later edition would shame any book collector, but I still treasure it for its contents.